Startup Q&A - tripBuddy Makes Carpooling Easy and Convenient
There is an abundance of transportation options if you are living in the city. Ride-sharing apps have made it even easier for city dwellers to get around with the ability to call a car at the push of a button. However, for those in the suburbs or live on college campuses away from the city, these apps can make snagging a ride more difficult since there might not be a lot of coverage or even any cars in the area.
Instead of catching a cab, sometimes carpooling with family members, neighbors, and/or roommates is more cost-effective and reduces one less car on the road. Founded in 2016, tripBuddy is developing a ride-sharing app with a focus on carpooling, so everyone looking for a ride can receive one.
Tawheed Abdul-Raheem, tripBuddy’s Founder and CEO, spoke with us about how his own experiences riding a campus bus inspired him to create a better way for other students can get around. He also shared the company’s ongoing participation at the reSET accelerator in Hartford, Connecticut.
CB: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins of tripBuddy?
TR: The story behind tripBuddy goes back to when I arrived in the United States to study for my undergraduate degree. There were multiple occasions when I needed to leave campus to go to the store, but realized that transportation, like the college shuttle, was unreliable. Most of those times I would find many other students at the store as well, but I was too shy to ask for a ride. At the time, I wished that there existed a platform to connect myself to other students. This drove me to devote my senior thesis to the creation of an application that would effectively track the campus shuttle bus.
Fast forward a few years; I am facing a less than optimal situation once more having to commute about an hour-and-a-half each way daily to get to his new job in a city that was a bit too far from home. This experience, along with many other transportation-related situations, led to the development of tripBuddy; an application meant to facilitate commuting and ride-sharing for those that do not wish to take a train for two hours. TripBuddy Inc. is a team that hopes to engage users, drivers, and riders to hopefully one day contribute to the reduction of traffic.
A 2017 report was released earlier this year by INRIX showing that traffic in the Boston area has worsened since the prior year. On average, commuters spend over 60 hours in traffic annually, making Boston the 7th most congested city in the United States of America. Our competitors have contributed to this issue, but we at tripBuddy want to change that.
CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did tripBuddy get its name?
TR: It actually did not take me a long time to come up with the name, as I was really excited about this idea and wanted to start coding to bring the platform to life. Funny enough, "tripBuddy" was the first name that came to my mind and without hesitation, I knew that it was the right name since it speaks to the vision I have for this startup.
CB: What is the ultimate goal of tripBuddy?
TR: We want to reduce the number of cars on the road by democratizing transportation. We are looking to work with companies in the Greater Boston area who want to invest in their employees by offering our services to all, which would facilitate commuting among those in the same area. Ultimately, our goal is to be the #1 carpooling app that users turn to when they need a ride to work or for day-to-day errands.
CB: Explain what your company does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service/etc. how does it work?
TR: tripBuddy is a carpooling service that’s conscious of the environment, your finances, and safety. tripBuddy aims to connect users with cars headed in the same direction (work, school, concert, trip out of town), thus cutting down on fuel, emissions and travel costs. The app also prides itself on its safe community, where drivers would undergo a background check. Additionally, users can check out available rides (simply search for someone traveling to your destination) and offer free lifts themselves. The platform also allows users to be selective - car owners can either accept or reject a ride request.
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
TR: Our team is currently made up of four passionate individuals. Bhautik Gadhiya leads the iOS and mobile platform and Alex Ferro, who used to work at Oracle as a sales rep, leads our marketing and sales effort. Additionally, we have a number of freelancers whom we hire to work on UI and UX of our platform. We are actively looking to grow our marketing and sales team to help us reach other markets.
CB: You’re currently in the reSET cohort? How has that been going for your company?
TR: reSET has been very good to us! We've had the opportunity connecting to some potential customers. What I love most about reSET is that you are connecting with a group of entrepreneurs who are going through similar challenges of running and building a profitable business. Overall, it is a good feeling to know that you are not alone and have a support network.
CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?
TR: Our company is currently bootstrapped, and we are in active talks with some key VCs in the Boston area who want to get in once we decide to do an investment round. However, we are currently focusing on our goal of expanding our business and onboarding new companies, so we are not actively pursuing investments.